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DIY, the most important forgotten skill.


In the SF doghouse with Burt
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There is a long version, and a Too-Long-Didnt-Read version, for the TLDR version, skip the part entitled "STORY" and go straight to "TLDR". For full version, real all.

I have had a weeks holiday so far, and I wanted to drag my bicycle out of the garage and get it working again and get some exercise, I wasted a several days not being able to find anywhere i could trust to repair my bike cheaply, so I decided to simply repair it myself, I gave it a once over and it looked like it only needed the gears adjusted and the rear tyre replaced, I wasted a few more days with bad motivation and bad weather until I finally got off my arse and got to work. I got all my best tools together and started pulling my bike apart, when I noticed the rear axle was sticking and slightly wonky, so I took it apart.

Upon all the ball bearings falling out, the axle grease getting everywhere (for which I had no replacement) and realising I couldnt put it back together without more tools to remove the freewheel gear set, I understood I was fucked. I berated myself for being so cocky and self-assured to take apart the hardest part of the bike to repair: the rear axle, because of a MINOR issue, and then called the bike shops for help. Unfortunately they each have a 1 week to 1 month waiting list for repairs because the government (to get everyone fitter after lockdown) is offering £50 bike repair vouchers to everyone for free, and whether people want to use the bikes or not, free is free, so everyone is swarming the bike shops.

Here is where I gave up, put everything away and came here to complain on SF about my rotten luck, about how the sun came out JUST as I would have been finishing with the bike if I had just known my limits and stuck to the necessary fixes, or if I had just got off my arse and got my bike fixed at one of the shops with a 1 week repair wait it would be done by now, the first sunshine in a week, and just to add insult to injury, outside my window some kids cycled past enjoying the sun. I was weak, I was stupid, and I now had no bike.

I thought about the axle, and how I took it all apart, and then I got angry at myself, not for my stupidity in trying, but my weakness in giving up ALREADY! It hadnt been hard taking the axle apart, and it wasnt THAT complicated, and when I had taken the axle out it was clearly bent, riding on it would have caused damage to the bike long-term, and here I was wishing I had stuck my head in the sand and just lived with it. Its not that hard, and when did I become so pathetic that I cant even figure out a bicycle? The repair shops cant repair straight away, but they can sell tools and parts, and I CAN do the work myself.

I went to the nearest halfords and brought the rear wheel and axle with me, I showed them the parts and purchased replacement parts, they didnt have any tools for removing the freewheel gearset for sale, but they did have their own tools so they did it for me for free, and I didnt need a tool to put it back on, so I went home, watched some youtube videos and got to work.

The axle is now back together and spinning like a dream, the only issue is I put the spacers on the wrong sides and then put on the freewheel which blocks me taking the spacers off, now I have had to order the tool to remove the freewheel online (£9) for delivery tomorrow so I can fix my mistake, in the mean time I cleaned the frame, removed old crap i dont use anymore and cleaned off any rust. Tomorrow the last tool will arrive and i will finish, then sort out the gears and my bike will be perfect, and I would have done every little bit of work myself.

So fixing my bike myself has been a half-day task so far, and I will have to finish it tomorrow, but I have learned some valuable life lessons from this, from just this 1 day of actually trying to do shit myself.

1) Stop giving up.
Most failures in life can be put down to giving up before you succeed, I had it in me to do the work and I almost gave up half way when I reached my first real hurdle because my self-doubt outweighed my self-confidence, but I got angry at myself for it, adapted, planned, persevered and now I am well on my way to fixing that damned bike (just that 1 tool needs delivering) and for less than the cost of getting someone else to do it for me. So trust yourself, get angry when you find yourself backing down on impulse, adapt and stop giving up!

The idiots in this world succeed because they are too dumb to doubt themselves so always push to the limit, whilst the smart people question and doubt everything and never live up to themselves.

2) Learn WHEN to call it a day
I had to stop in the end because I simply didnt have the correct tool and needed to order it in, I could have bodged it, used screwdrivers and hammers and such to loosen the freewheel, but then I would have damaged it and thats worth quarter of the price I paid for the bike in the first place, so I had to call it a day, but this isnt giving up, its planning, if I had just kept pushing I would have done more damage than good. So just as you should learn when to NOT give up, you should learn when enough is enough (for now).

3) Timing is everything
It is the difference between an easy win and an uphill struggle. Because of bad timing on my part, all the repair shops were too busy, all the tools in the shops had been bought, even many of the tools on amazon had sold out, because everyone, including the government is getting their bikes out just as I decided (because I had a holiday) to do the same. Often its not a lack of talent, its not that you are worthless, and its not that life hates you, you just had bad timing. Knowing when to do something is just as important as knowing what to do.

4) Do more DIY.
As a culture we all are trained to leave everything to the professionals, to never do anything ourselves. We call locksmiths rather than fix the damn door ourselves, we call electricians rather than replace a light fitting, we call a mechanic rather than replace a headlamp on our cars, we buy readymeals rather than cook, I swear I even saw pre-boiled eggs in the damned shop. When did "drop egg in hot water" get so difficult that you would pay extra for someone else to do it for you?, I spent 1 day trying to fix my own bike and I have learned several life lessons, gained some much needed self-confidence, realised a pattern of backing down and underestimating myself that has been impacting every part of my life, and even saved some money. Because we never actually DO anything ourselves we believe we CANT do anything. If we just TRY SOMETHING we can realise we are underestimating ourselves.


In the SF doghouse with Burt
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Just an update:

The tool came today, So i got to work again, it was another 3 hours of hard work. When i first looked at the bike I thought I just needed to tweak the gears a little and put on a new tire, now I have finished the work there was a whole lot more to do than I ever realised. In the end I:
- Replaced the rear axle (This took forever getting the spacers right so the wheel was centred)
- Cleaned rust off most of the adjustment screws and bolts (which were all rusted in place)
- Cleaned rust off the horn (Yes, by bicycle has a horn, not a bell, its more fun)
- Replaced the rear tire
- Pumped up front and rear tires
- Adjusted the front and rear gears
- Tightened the front and back brakes
- Adjusted the alignment of the back brakes
- Cleaned the dead spiders off the whole bike
- Completed victory lap around my neighbourhood
All in all this took me something like 9 hours to figure out what I was doing, purchase the new parts, do the work, redo the work when i got it wrong, and finally clean everything. Lots of fun though :) and I leaned 1 more life lesson, life lesson number 5 from fixing my bike:

5) Never get discouraged because there is more to do than you thought, there is ALWAYS more to do than you thought.


Kangaroo Manager
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I that is quite well done. DIY is a useful skill. I lack in mechanical which my brother excels at while with me I have to remember righty tighty, lefty loosey to take a tire off. LOL. I did learn carpentry skills as a young fella and still do a bit of woodworking.


In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
I that is quite well done. DIY is a useful skill. I lack in mechanical which my brother excels at while with me I have to remember righty tighty, lefty loosey to take a tire off. LOL. I did learn carpentry skills as a young fella and still do a bit of woodworking.
Every time I approach a nut or screw I am thinking "lefty loosy righty tighty" in my head

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